Former manager stole almost £3k from Weston's Waterstones

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 March 2019

North Somerset Courthouse.

North Somerset Courthouse.

Archant

A former store manager stole thousands of pounds from his Weston employer.

Christopher Ashford pleaded guilty to stealing £2,920 from Waterstones, in the Sovereign Shopping Centre, in order to pay for ‘a household and a half’.

The 36-year-old admitted to fraud by abusing his position between November 1, 2017 and July 6, 2018.

Prosecutor Nicole Miebair told the court Ashford had used the shop’s stamp and save card scheme to recoup the money and pocket the cash from the till, with documents showing he stole almost £3,000 in the nine months of his offending.

Marco Alongi, the loss prevention manager, said his and other people’s jobs were ‘at risk’ as a result of Ashford’s crimes.

He added: “I am accountable for the losses of the company and have spent many hours actively seeking to find methods to prove it.

“I was told I may be at risk of losing my own job due to the losses. This, of course, has caused me an incredible amount of stress as I have my own established outgoings which would be unpayable without my job.”

James Munford, mitigating, said Ashford’s offending was ‘clearly an abuse of trust’ but he did it to help his family.

He added: “Ashford has worked at Waterstones for nine and a half years, nine of which have passed without incident.

“The offending, which he has admitted to, occurred due to a change of circumstances.

“At the time he was living with his parents in Highbridge, trying to provide for a household and a half after his marriage broke down.

“He took what was needed to pay the extra bills and train fares to see his wife and children.”

Mr Munford also told the court Ashford had struggled with a drinking problem which he had under control now thanks to a support programme.

He added: “His alcohol misuse had been a source of his financial woes – spending £60 a week on alcohol.

“His wife didn’t drink so the fact he did was an initial source of conflict between them.”

Ashford, of Walrow Road, was handed a 12-month community order of 200 hours unpaid work.

He must complete a 20-day rehabilitation activity and ordered to pay his former employer £2,920 in compensation.

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